Editor’s Note: Kaniela Ing is a Democrat running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Congressional District 1.  

As a father, I’m completely heartbroken. Immigration officials are lying to parents and abducting their children under the pretenses of baths, meals, or questioning. Without a chance to say goodbye, children are crying to be returned to their mothers and fathers, and parents weep from devastation and frustration. I hear these stories and can’t help but think of my son, Laguna, being torn from my arms.

When Trump ran for office, he promised a dictatorial “zero tolerance” approach to immigration and we’re seeing the terrifying impacts of that every single day. Shelters for children are filled beyond capacity, and Trump is considering to build “tent cities” to detain thousands more children. The White House is tearing families apart and can’t explain their plan to reunite them. Shameful.

We often respond with calls to action to prevent one heartbreaking deportation at a time. But that’s not enough. We must mobilize, organize, and vote to change the entire immoral system. We must abolish ICE.

One of many signs at a protest over Trump’s immigration ban in Honolulu in January.

Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Earlier this week, Trump signed an executive order reversing his own policy of family separation at the U.S-Mexico border.

This only means that families will once again be detained together and that cages will be constructed in the desert to corral them. 62 percent of immigrant detention centers are private prisons. Geo Group, CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America), other for-profit prison companies, and their shareholders are profiting from America’s inhumanity.

But as we’ve done throughout history, and since the beginning of this administration, we’ve come together to fight for one another and the future we believe in. From the Women’s March to protests of the Muslim ban to March for Our Lives, millions of people across the nation are fighting back.

Many Republicans campaigned using divisive rhetoric, stoking fear and hate of immigrants, and now they’re in control of Washington. It’s unlikely for us to pass federal policies for the humanity and dignity of all immigrants until after the 2018 and 2020 elections. However, in addition to holding the Trump Administration accountable and preventing further harm to our lives, we can demand candidates and elected officials at all levels to champion concrete actions that help immigrant and undocumented families on a daily basis. No action would help champion immigrant rights and human rights than abolishing ICE.

In the legislature, I championed investigations into allegations of human trafficking in the long-line fishing industry, fought to pass driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, and introduced the nation’s first Sanctuary State Bill. We can do more. The Sanctuary State Bill passed both chambers, but died in conference. We can make sure it passes next session and elect a governor who promises now to sign it into law. Hawaii’s county councils can work with our police departments to prevent cooperation with ICE. All congressional candidates must support defunding ICE. I am the only candidate at this time to support abolishing ICE in the 1st Congressional District.

It’s important to remember that ICE was only created in 2003. The creation of ICE was a George W. Bush scapegoating tactic to pit us against “others” and help justify the Iraq War. We didn’t need ICE then, and we don’t need it now.

ICE is what our immigration policy looks like when it’s rooted in fear and scarcity. It has become the American Gestapo. Everyday, we continue business as usual and allow ICE to take our neighbors away in the middle of the night; it’s our moral failure that inches us towards authoritarianism.

It’s time for us to lead with humanity and aloha. All of us have a choice. We can choose to allow this moral stain to bleed deeper into the soul of our nation, or come together to fight for aloha.

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